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Tom Joyner Beach Party

I just got back from Tom Joyner’s Fantastic Voyage, an annual cruise dedicated to helping boys and girls stay in historically Black colleges.

I had a good time on board the Carnival’s Breeze with artists like R. Kelly, TLC, Jennifer Hudson, Juvenile, and Trina, just to name a few. Near the end of the trip, there was even a water gun fight in which the guests of the Fantastic Voyage were divided into two teams.

Team Light Skin’ded vs. Team Dark Skin’ded.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Really? We still doing this? That’s what I thought too, but it was innocent fun. Most of the people involved didn’t seem to have a problem with it; in fact, I heard a chant of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” on all sides as we waited for the actual water gun fight to begin.

Tom Joyner Beach Party

But when I uploaded a picture of the promotional sign, things got a little ugly.

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Which team "IS" you on? #FantasticVoyage15

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“This is so stupid,” my friend Ayla said. My boy Brian simply said “Sad.” Someone chimed in with a “I am… disgusted.”

The teams weren’t all filled with light and dark-skinned people. There were some people in the middle, like myself. Before I joined the rest of Team Light-Skin, I had to be verified like a celebrity’s Twitter account. I undid my water-resistant watch and bared my naked wrist – the only part of my body that was covered from the sun for the past eight days at sea. Needless to say, my light bright wrist skin qualified me. I still ended up getting attacked from both teams because the rest of my body was browner than an old McDonald’s french fry. This was a risk us people “in the middle” knowingly faced when we partook in the water gun fight.

I knew the history of this type of division has haunted our people for years. One cruise-goer said, “They divided us by color hundreds of years ago, and now we are doing it to ourselves.”

That was true. The Final Call breaks it down in this article about the Willie Lynch letters and how those small foolish differences were used to break our unity; but on this one day, for one hour, on a beach in the middle of Honduras, it actually brought all us colored folks together.

Sure, the dark-skinned team kinda cheated by ditching their water guns and using buckets to dump on the “unsuspecting” light-skinned people. The sound of water gushing down your head into your ears is terrifying, however the cool water rolling down on your skin on a hot 90 degree day is as refreshing as racial harmony in a foreign country.

Tom Joyner, the captain of Team Light Skin’ded, allegedly surrendered, walked to the microphone, and made an announcement:”Team Light Skin Won!” But as we got back on the cruise ship for the last night, we all had just a little more fun, talked to a few more people we hadn’t spoken to before, and made friends that would last for some time. All for a good cause by the way: to help Black students stay at their HBCUs until they get their degree.

Tom Joyner Beach Party

It was just a joke between friends, but yes, it’s still jarring when you see it there before your eyes on a sign. What’s your take?

PHOTO CREDIT: Black America Web / Rance Elgin

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